What happens if the death occurs where there is no Australian diplomatic representation?

Not all countries have an Australian diplomatic or consular post but there is usually an Australian post in the region. Under a consular agreement between Australia and Canada there are a number of locations where Australians have access to consular services through embassies and high commissions managed by the Canadian Government. Informal arrangements also exist with other consular services, including those of the United Kingdom and the United States of America, to lend assistance to Australians in need.

Address and telephone numbers of Australian embassies, high commissions and consulates can be found at www.dfat.gov.au/missions.

Does the next-of-kin have to travel to the country?

This is not necessary unless they wish to. The Australian mission in the country can assist by providing the next-of-kin with a list of local funeral directors, who will make the necessary funeral and repatriation arrangements on their behalf and in accordance with their wishes.

What should I do if my travelling companion dies?

It is important that the death of any Australian overseas is reported to an Australian mission. Access to the directory of Australian overseas missions appears in the ‘Getting Help Overseas’ section of Travel Smart: Death Overseas. The Smart Traveller booklet is issued with your passport and is available online at smartraveller.gov.au.

You will need the following details about the deceased if you report the death:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Passport number, place and date of issue
  • Next-of-kin

Whether they were suffering from any communicable illness
Whether they had travel insurance and if so, the name and contact details of the company.

If the death is unexpected and did not occur in a hospital, the local police will be involved. If you have not yet reported the death, the police should immediately notify the nearest Australian mission. The insurance company or consular staff in Australia can help to notify the next-of-kin in Australia.

How long will it take for the remains

This depends on local regulations and circumstances. In some cases, it can take up to two weeks. It may take longer if, for example, there is a need for an autopsy/coronial inquiry to determine the cause of death.

What happens to the remains?

The next-of-kin will be consulted and the Australian mission and local funeral directors will make every effort to meet the deceased’s or their relatives’ wishes. However, in some countries and in certain circumstances, local regulations and conditions may require a quick decision on what to do with the remains.

When death occurs whilst overseas.

Under international law, the nearest Australian mission (embassy, consulate or high commission) should always be notified of the death of an Australian citizen.
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If a tour company or a friend notifies us of the death of an Australian overseas, we will always confirm the information with the local authorities in that country. We will then contact the police who will visit the next-of-kin (or other contact specified in the deceased’s passport application) to inform them of the death and provide our contact details to them. We can then provide the next-of-kin with further details about the death and advise the steps that need to be taken overseas.

While consular staff will make every effort to ensure that relatives do not first learn of a death via the media, this cannot always be prevented. If you hear of the death from a journalist, a tour operator or any other third party, you should contact the 24-hour Consular Assistance on +61 2 6261 3305 (anywhere in the world) or 1300 555 135 (local call cost within Australia). We will seek to confirm the death with local authorities and provide advice to immediate family on how to best manage media inquiries.

The repatriation of a loved one back home to their resting place can be a difficult, stressful and overwhelming experience.

In this hard and emotional stage of losing a loved one, our family service whole-heartedly offer full support with:

  • Legal documentation with Australian Government Authorities
  • Preparation of Your Loved one for Travel Overseas
  • Embassy & Consulate Document legalisation
  • Airline Booking and Negotiations
  • Customs & Authorities Clearance